50-State Report on College and Career Readiness

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With all fifty states and the District of Columbia (DC) having adopted college- and career-ready standards in English and mathematics, Achieve's seventh annual Closing the Expectations Gap report (released September 13) shows how all states are aligning those standards with policies to send clear signals to students about what it means to be academically prepared for college and careers after high school graduation.

For the first time, the report also details not only states' policy progress on the college- and career-ready agenda, but also their efforts to implement those policies, since only faithful implementation can improve student achievement. The report was released during the opening session of Achieve's eighth annual American Diploma Project Leadership Team Meeting in Alexandria, Virgina, which brought together nearly 300 education leaders in cross-sector teams from thirty-four states.

"With all states adopting college- and career-ready standards, they have now taken the first step toward reorienting the mission of their K-12 systems to reflect the demands of the twenty-first century", said Mike Cohen, Achieve's president, to a crowd of education leaders from across the country. "As this report shows, various states are making some movement toward fulfilling the college- and career-ready agenda by putting new policies in place to support this new mission, but there is still much room for progress to be made."

Achieve conducts an annual policy survey that asks all fifty states and DC whether they have adopted standards, graduation requirements, assessments, and accountability systems aligned to the expectations of two- and four-year colleges and employers. The national survey of state education leaders has measured the same areas of reform each year since the National Governors Association and Achieve cosponsored the National Education Summit in 2005. This year's survey reveals the following results:


  • All fifty states and DC have adopted standards aligned to the expectations of college and careers.
  • Forty-six states and DC have adopted the Common Core State Standards.
  • Four have state-developed College and Career Ready (CCR) standards.
  • By 2015-2016, all English language arts and mathematics instruction should reflect CCR expectations.

Graduation Requirements:

  • Today, twenty-three states and DC have adopted college- and career-ready graduation requirements that require all students to meet the full set of expectations defined in the CCSS.
  • Hawaii, Iowa, and Washington raised their graduation requirements to the college- and career-ready level in 2011.


  • Today, eighteen states administer college- and career-ready high school assessments capable of producing a readiness score that postsecondary institutions use to make placement decisions.
  • Four new states - Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, and Wyoming - joined this list in 2011 by adopting a policy to administer a college- and career-ready test to its high school students.
  • It is expected that forty-four states and DC that are participating in one or both Race to the Top assessment consortia will meet this criteria when the next generation assessments are administered for the first time in 2014-2015.


  • A majority of states, thirty-two, have now incorporated at least one of four accountability indicators that Achieve has identified as critical to promoting college and career readiness.
  • As in last year's report, only Texas meets Achieve's criteria regarding the use of all indicators in its college- and career-ready accountability system.
  • Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Kentucky have included the use of multiple college- and career-ready indicators in their accountability systems in multiple ways.
  • Since last year, states have made important gains on the college- and career-ready agenda with all adopting college- and career-ready standards, and additional states moving toward more accountability.
  • Even as additional progress is made, states have further to go by turning their attention to the implementation of standards and related policies.

"States and the larger education community must make sure educators have access to resources like quality instructional materials and effective professional development", Cohen urged. "Success is going to take the combined effort of all education stakeholders - students, teachers, principals, K-12 leaders, school board members, superintendents, administrators, policymakers, postsecondary education leaders, the business community, and parents."

Cohen also pointed to the sharing of a common set of standards by forty-six states and DC that has produced unprecedented cross-state collaboration around common assessments and gauging the quality of instructional products. He went on to say",The next few years will be challenging for the college- and career-ready agenda and we have to stay the course. States have made tremendous progress toward college and career readiness for all by communicating its importance within, but also by standing together. Because of this commitment by all fifty states and DC, college and career readiness is an expectation of our students, no matter where they live."

To see a full copy of the report, visit the Achieve website

Source: September 13, 2012, Achieve News Release

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